Saturday, November 26, 2016

I went through the motions

What I did: Thanksgiving dinner for 9, with 5 sleep-over guests and 2 extra dogs

What I did beforehand: my Thanksgiving independence began as a college freshman. I went back east to school and my mother told me she wouldn’t pay for my to come home for it. I was told to get myself invited to other people’s houses. By junior year I was cooking in the empty dorm with a disposable roasting pan and purloined cafeteria dishes and silverware. I spent a month’s grocery money on a heavy Calphalon roasting pan in grad school, and could do a serviceable turkey gravy before I had my first kid. 

The rare years that we have traveled over Thanksgiving week, we’ve sworn, “Never again.”

Bacon Provider practicing selfies

For many years we have invited friends who don’t have family in the U.S. or can’t afford to get home or wouldn’t go home even if they could afford to. This practice put an end to an older tradition, where every Thanksgiving my husband and I would have a shouting fight over which wine to de-glaze the pan with or which dishes to use or whether we need water glasses on the table. 

What I wore: jeans and a favorite black shirt and Birkenstock clogs and an apron.

Who came to dinner: the Bacon Provider, 19, The Graduate, his roommate, B. who I befriended on Twitter, W. and her dog, P. and her girlfriend J. and dog

How I got the turkey: I pre-ordered an organic turkey from a local grocer. They asked 19 about his long hair, and offered to brine the turkey. 

Why I saw this show: I look forward to the day when our Thanksgiving celebrations include acknowledgement of the genocide of the indigenous peoples of North America. In the meantime, Thanksgiving is one of those sort of easy, happy little holidays that’s just about one, do-able thing (a meal), isn’t entangled with anything religious, and requires housecleaning but no significant decorating.

Where I sat: the Bacon Provider and I have a lot of dining room chairs, but only 8 that don’t wobble and feel a little bit broken. It took a number of rearrangements to make sure that the worst chairs would be ours, on the opposite ends.

Things that were sad: my middle child was not here. She texted me a picture of her homemade challah and made her own first turkey in Seattle. I ran out of time and didn’t call my older brother. One of the guest dogs chased and barked at Schwartz, so he spent the day hiding. 

I know how he feels.

Nothing has felt the same since the “election” of the Russian-sponsored pussy-grabber and his appointments parade of America’s Most Deplorable to positions of power. It’s clear he doesn’t know what a president does, but at least he’s surrounding himself with an expert panel of white supremacists, wife-beaters, homophobes, school-destroyers, war-mongers, xenophobes, and anti-Semites. I think we’re fucked.

I glumly readied the dining room for the holiday the weekend before, and finally moved the furniture around so someone could sleep on the sofa bed in there, but didn't set the table in advance because I worried the cat would jump on it.

Things that were funny: P. and I substituted a homemade spice mixture in all recipes involving cinnamon because J. is allergic. We used allspice, cardamom, anise, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and white pepper. We had to make it over and over again. It was fine.

Things that were not funny: the day before the Bacon Provider tired to show me an article about spatchcocking a turkey. Like we were going to wake up on Thanksgiving morning, abandon our thirty years’ experience with roasting and basting, and carve up the raw turkey carcass just because of something he saw online. Also, he disagreed with me about putting water glasses on the table again. 

The brining done by the fancy store where I got the turkey wasn't as strong or effective as my own and so the turkey turned out a lot less juicy and perfect this year. 

Our old dog had a lot of accidents in the busy kitchen.

Something I ate: before dinner we had raw carrots and homemade spelt and wheat sourdough crackers with sesame and fennel seeds with La Tur, Point Reyes blue, and an aged cheddar. At dinner we had roast turkey, traditional bread-cube stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts cooked with leeks and butter, beet salad with shallots and walnuts, maple-syrup-sweetened mashed sweet potatoes with jalapeños, sourdough millet porridge rolls, and creamed spinach. For dessert, pumpkin cheesecake, apple-cranberry-pomegranate pie, crumble-topped apple-cranberry-pomegranate pie  and pumpkin pie. We also had a lot of wine.

What it is: I am one of the extraordinarily lucky people whose Friendsgiving Dinner coincides with Thanksgiving.

Who should invite old friends and new to Thanksgiving: anyone with room at their table. 

What I saw on the way home: W. and I took B. to his train back to the city around 9:30. I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a toad. It was walking, not hopping. Stupid toad. 

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